Online commenters can be unusually cruel, especially since they can remain anonymous, hiding behind their computer screens. No one knows that better than Pilates trainer Cassey Ho, who is behind the online fitness video series Blogilates.
Ho, who was frustrated with all the negative comments about her appearance, decided to create a video in which she photoshops her body into the "ideal" shape as determined by harsh commenters. The result was a video called "The 'Perfect' Body," produced by Collective Digital Studios and cosmetics company Smashbox. It has since been viewed more than 5 million times on YouTube.
"I wanted to digitally share, with Photoshop, what I feel like taking these hits every day," Ho explained to Adweek at the StyleHaul Digital Content NewFronts presentation Tuesday.
The Pilates instructor, who is on the roster of talent at multi-channel network StyleHaul, began posting training videos on YouTube in 2009 when she moved from Los Angeles to Boston. She had been an instructor at an L.A. Fitness for nine years, and she uploaded a session on YouTube in order to help her students keep fit. Soon, she was surprised to find that many other people were also using her videos to train at home.
"[Online training videos] have made training super accessible," she said. "My fans don't need a gym membership. They've lost hundreds of pounds."
Not everything about being an online star has been positive. She explained that she noticed the comments on her videos, especially about her body, were getting increasingly worse. Ho came up with the idea of Photoshopping her body into what people said she should look like, but didn't have the digital skills to pull off the feat. After talking to James Chen, the creative director of Smashbox Studios, the team was able to execute the concept in less than two-and-a-half weeks.
The video is part of the Made at Smashbox initiative, which allows beauty YouTubers to come into the cosmetics company's studios in Los Angeles, where Smashbox products are readily available, and film their videos. To further promote her clip, Ho posted a teaser photo of her ultra-skinny, photoshopped body—and while some expressed their disgust, she was shocked to find some people thought that distorted physique was normal.
"That photo was a marketing tool to get people to watch the video, but both a beautiful and terrible thing happened in the comments," she said. "You could see the destructive mentality of society."
Overall, she hopes people learn from her "Perfect" video that image isn't everything, and people should be more confident in who they are inside.
"Our body does not define who we are," she said. "It's just a vessel to carry our dreams so we can reach our own full potential."